Wet and cool weather delayed or halted harvest in all areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan last week, the two provinces said in their weekly crop reports.
Just two per cent of Saskatchewan’s 2008 crop was harvested last week, bringing the total up to 22 per cent, well below the 2003-07 average of 49 per cent for this time period.
By region, total crop harvested ranges from just 10 per cent in Saskatchewan’s northwest, compared to 36 per cent in the southwest.
Although yield estimates continue to point to above-average production provincewide, Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry said Monday, the weather has impacted crop quality generally with reports of damage due to staining, bleaching, sprouting and lodging.
About 49 per cent of the province’s barley crop is expected to grade malt quality, above the 10-year average of 32 per cent, the ministry said.
And seeding of Saskatchewan’s fall crops is underway, the province noted, adding that the biggest factor limiting seeding progress is the delay in harvesting.
Farming regions of Manitoba saw accumulated rainfall ranging from as little as five mm in the southern Interlake to as much as 100 mm in the Rossburn, Oakburn and Shoal Lake areas of the province’s southwest. The already-waterlogged north Interlake got up to 60 more millimetres of rain last week.
Nearly all areas of the province now need warm, dry weather to resume harvest and preserve some quality in their crops, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives reported. Some areas, such as the northwest, have been able to catch up on canola swathing.
“Concern remains for long-season and late-seeded crops maturing, especially as overnight temperatures are cooling,” the province said of its central crop growing region, including Portage la Prairie and the Red River valley. “Two or three days of warm, sunny weather are required to start harvest again.”
Some areas of the province’s southeast already got some very light frost from Sunday evening through Monday morning, although crop damage was only expected to follow in lower-lying areas.
In the northern part of the Interlake region between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, harvest is only about 10 to 20 per cent complete and some fields won’t be harvested. Several farmers in the northern Interlake and some in the southern part of the region are installing or considering tracks for their harvest equipment.
Most alfalfa seed in the soaked northern Interlake is being written off, as insurance-adjusted seed yields are below 30 pounds per acre, the province said. The cause of the crop loss is suspected to be fungal infection, along with weather damage, as crops were knocked down by heavy rains early in the season.